Sweden Moves to Ban Using Credit Cards to Fund Gambling

Online Casinos Legislation
Rob Simmons

Updated by

Rob Simmons

Last Updated on 14th March 2024, 07:22 AM

Sweden Moves to Ban Using Credit Cards to Fund Gambling

Swedish gamblers will be prohibited from playing on licensed sports betting and online casino sites with funds derived from credit cards as of April 2025, according to new proposals from the Swedish government.

The Swedish Ministry of Finance has put forth a memorandum that would extend the current ban on licensed casino operators offering credit to players for stakes by introducing a full ban on all forms of credit card-funded gambling.

The aim of the ban, the ministry said, is to “discourage indebtedness” among players, while also reducing the risk of potential harm through gambling with credit cards.

“Gambling for money on credit can lead to great financial difficulties,” Sweden’s Minister of Financial Markets Niklas Wykman said om Monday. “Therefore, we are now stopping that possibility. It is not reasonable for gambling companies or gambling agents to contribute to individuals taking such large risks.”

Comprehensive Credit Card Ban Taking Shape

The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS), which represents much of the country’s licensed gaming industry, strongly disagrees. 

BOS Secretary General Gustaf Hoffstedt told Casinos.com that the ban would just hand the unlicensed Swedish grey market “yet another competitive advantage.”

“The unlicensed gambling companies will continue to offer games with credit cards,” Hoffstedt said. “This is where the big threat to consumer protection lies.”

As proposed, the ban would apply to all licensed forms of gambling, which includes state-run gambling, land-based casinos, sports betting, commercial online gambling, charity gambling, and even gambling on Swedish cruise ships.

However, the Ministry has suggested that the Swedish Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) should have the opportunity to decide on potential exemptions to this rule, in the event that an activity concerned is for a public benefit, for example.

Sweden’s Minister of Finance Niklas Wykman

Sweden’s Minister of Finance Niklas Wykman says a credit card ban for casinos is the right thing to do. (Image: TT News Agency / Alamy)

Funneling Players to Unlicensed Grey Market?

The proposal is slated to become law on 1 September 2024, effectively firing the starting gun on the regulatory process, with a proviso that any ban come into effect from April 2025.

“It is sad that the government does not listen to its own expertise and instead proposes a ban on credit cards when gambling, contrary to what the government investigation has concluded,” Hoffstedt said.

In July 2023, Sweden’s Ministry of Justice published the Enhanced Consumer Protection Against Risky Lending and Over-indebtedness report, in which it concluded that reasons against introducing a credit card gambling ban outweigh the reasons for a ban. 

Hoffstedt says if implemented as-is, this ban would decimate the gaming industry in Sweden, and could see grey-market operators thriving and even outperforming their legal and regulated competitors.

“The risk is great that unlicensed gambling will overtake and gain a larger total market share than licensed gambling in 2024,” Hoffstedt declared. “The government needs to change its footing and show that it is on the side of the licensed gambling companies and consumer protection.”

(Brief) History of Oversight

Sweden’s government has scrutinized the online gambling sector since the market reregulated in January 2019. They’ve introduced multiple measures to discourage problem gambling, including advertising restrictions and weekly deposit limits for players.

The government has led investigations into the gaming industry as the country looks to grow its market. Even the Swedish Gambling Authority has found itself under investigation from the country’s national audit office.

At the time, the Ministry proposed several measures, including a system for monitoring debts and credit card registers, something which the SGA supported. 

Now the SGA’s stance is that any licensee encouraging players to borrow to fund their gambling is contravening their duty of care, as outlined in the Swedish Gambling Act itself. A recent survey of licensees revealed that some 60% offered players the ability to gamble using credit cards.

Sweden’s neighbour Norway currently has a full ban on credit card-funded gambling in place, while the UK introduced its own ban in 2020.

Meet The Author

Rob Simmons
Rob Simmons

Rob started out in journalism as a staff writer for Gambling Insider, before moving to EGR in 2018 where he wrote about diverse subjects including regulation, sports betting, igaming and the legislative expansion of sports betting across the US market. A keen blogger and freelance writer, Rob also studies Krav Maga and enjoys cinema, science-fiction conventions and supporting Tottenham Hotspur.

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